Sunday, December 31, 2006

Historical Learnings of Glorious Kazakhstan

The gulags once spread over the Kazakhstan steppe like a thick wreath. (New York Times article).

The NYT in Self-Deprecation Mode

The writer Ben Hecht once observed that trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell time by watching the second hand of a clock. (Op-Ed display in today's New York Times).

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam, a Retrospective Postmortem

It's that his execution is like swatting a fly in the midst of a plague of locusts. In the long and troubled, occasionally graceful, history of humanity, no good has ever come from executing anyone. (The Metaphor blog).

The decision to execute Saddam is like pouring petrol onto the fire. I think that rivers of blood will flow through the country. (Iraqi quoted on BBC site ).

Saddam is like a black page in Iraq’s book, and this page needs to be turned over. (Another Iraqi on Rochester, N.Y., TV news site).

Implementing the verdict is like driving . . . Iraq into hell. (Another Iraqi quoted in a Chicago Tribune article.)

… Saddam is like a lion in a cage. ( Article on Independent Institute site ).

Delaying action against Saddam is like waiting for a killer to knock at the door… The kind of harm Saddam can deliver will take thousands of American lives if we wait. (Cal Thomas quoted on the Beast blog ).

Trying to manage the Iraqi threat under Saddam is like trying to cool a volcano with a thermostat. We must therefore declare a new objective. Our clear, unequivocal goal should be liberating the Iraqi people and the world from Saddam's tyranny, as we should have done in 1991. (Senator Joseph Lieberman on Yale University site).

Saddam is like a snake in the bedroom. We didn't chop off his head and he's around. He's developing weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological. We know that. And we know that within three to five years he'll have nuclear weapons. (Senator Christopher Shays quoted in CNN transcript).

Friday, December 29, 2006

What the World Can't or Won't Hear

If someone this weekend says "Happy New Year" in Iraq or Afghanistan, would anyone in the world hear it? For many, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have become like trees falling in an empty forest. The world doesn't want to hear it. (Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal).

That's No Way to Speak of a Colleague

Blogs are like one's colleagues -- some are truthful and some embellish, but, please, give me the option to decide. (Letter to The Wall Street Journal from Daniel S. Cohen of Boston on recent negative opinion column about blogs. One of 6 letters. See Post Dec. 31st below.)

Regarding Celebrity Gone Awry

Talent, or the lack thereof, has also been a factor in many of these [celebrity] meltdowns. The songwriter Joni Mitchell long ago complained that Madonna had "knocked the importance of talent out of the arena." That's true of more than a few present-day celebrities, who, like travelers bumped up to business class on an overbooked flight, seem to owe their success less to any virtue or effort of their own than to whatever combination of accidents put them there. (de gustibus column in today's Wall Street Journal).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Republican, at the End of His Rope

...I remember the pride I felt when the statue of Saddam Hussein came down. I remember the thrill I felt when three times Iraqis risked their own lives to vote democratically in a way that was internationally verifiable as well as legitimate and important. Now all of those memories seem much like ashes to me. (Senator Gordon H. Smith, an Oregon Republican, in remarks on the Senate floor, saying he was at the "end of his rope" with Bush's Iraq policy).

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas Gift From Dr. Seuss

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

(From "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Dr. Seuss, 1957).

Joy to the World. Well, Sorta.

Never mind our anticapitalist aversion to the mall. The problem was that for us, joy itself was a troublesome concept. Joy requires a certain suspension of disbelief. We just couldn't suspend it -- like a mildewy tent, it kept collapsing. (Sandra Tsing-Loh in yesterday's New York Times).

Like the sisters in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women," we having stockings and cake and ice cream. And like them, when it comes to Christmas we are deeply confused. (Susan Cheever in yesterday's New York Times.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

On Being Grateful

But nitpicking like this seems rather ungrateful, a bit like complaining about Selma Hayek’s feet. (Wall Street Journal review of "Spoiled Rotten America" by comic Larry Miller).

Some Holiday Thoughts From Our Iranian Friend

"The oppressive powers will disappear while the Iranian people will stay. Any power that is close to God will survive while the powers who are far from God will disappear like the pharaohs." (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
about Britain, Israel and the United States).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To The WSJ, Bloggers Are Tag-Along Sycophants

The bloggers, for their part, produce minimal reportage. Instead, they ride along with the MSM [mainstream media] like remora fish on the bellies of sharks, picking at the scraps. (Wall Street Journal column, The Blog Mob).

An Unblinking Eye for the Macabre & Absurd

The body of Jesus Bazaldua Barber, a worker electrocuted by 60,000 volts installing a phone line at the top of a telephone pole, dangles backward like Jesus in a Deposition. (New York Times review of Enrique Metinides photographs, on view through Jan. 17 at Anton Kern gallery, 532 West 20th Street, Manhattan.)

For those up to the task, the image can be viewed here.

The Forensics of Broadcast TV

Networks, like serial killers, tend to develop patterns. (Alessandra Stanley in Wednesday's York Times).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

In Search of Intelligent Life in D.C.

Sounding as naked of essentials as Britney Spears, the new intelligence oversight chief [Democrat Silvestre Reyes, another Texan] pleaded that it was hard to keep all the categories straight. (Maureen Dowd in today's The New York Times on Reyes's inability to answer simple questions about Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.)

And ...

If Mr. Reyes had been reading the newspaper, he might have noticed Mr. [Jeff] Stein's piece on The Times's Op-Ed page two months earlier, in which, like a wonkish Ali G, he caught many intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as members of Congress, who did not know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite. (Dowd).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 5

From “The Godfather” (1972):

She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her, like an animal. (Bonasera).

What's the matter with you. Is this how you turned out? A Hollywood finocchio that cries like a woman. (Don Corleone).

“The Godfather: Part II” (1974):

Those were the great old days, you know ... And we was like the Roman Empire ... The Corleone family was like the Roman Empire... (Frank Pentangeli)

“The Godfather: Part III” (1990):

Uncle Michael, listen … I know you're into banks and Wall Street, but everyone knows you're the final word, you're like the Supreme Court. (Vincent Mancini)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quarrying for Words: a Laureate's Work

As we hold words in our hands, like stones, sensing the ways in which each is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes from very close, caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds. (Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist, in his 2006 Nobel Prize lecture, from The New Yorker online).

And …

To write, to read, was like leaving one world to find consolation in the otherness of another, in the strange and the wondrous. (Orhan Pamuk).

Iraq's Deadly Ghosts

``They shoot and flee in five minutes. They disappear like ghosts.'' (An Iraqi captain in Baghdad quoted in The New York Times about increased mortar attacks).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In War of the Words: Similes Are on the Front Line

“And now, like a mighty t-rex that has escaped from Jurassic Park, Crichton stomps across the public policy landscape, finally claiming the influence that he has always sought. In this sense, he himself is like an experiment gone wrong — a creation of the publishing industry and Hollywood who has unexpectedly mutated into a menacing figure haunting think tanks, policy forums, hearing rooms and even the Oval Office.” (New York Times article quoting political commentator's accusation that Michael Crichton used a character in a new book to get back at him.)

Typo O Blood = Type A Boston Pitcher?

In Japan, using blood type to predict a person's character is as common as going to McDonald's and ordering a teriyaki burger. (New York Times sports article on Daisuke Matsuzaka's Typo O "warrior" blood type).

A Meditation on the Mess Inside Your Head

Meditation is very much like training a puppy. You put the puppy down and say, “Stay.” Does the puppy listen? It gets up and runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay.” And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes the puppy jumps up, runs over and pees in the corner, or makes some other mess. Our minds are much the same as the puppy, only they create even bigger messes. In training the mind, or the puppy, we have to start over and over again. (Jack Kornfield, book excerpt, Tricycle Magazine).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For 'W,' a Weighty Message From Above.

Moments after the report of the Iraq Study Group descended on George W. Bush like a safe from a penthouse, its ten members fanned out in bipartisan squads to assure the world that they weren’t blaming anybody. (Talk of the Town, The New Yorker).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keeping It Covered at The Washington Post Co.

“He’s like a stripper who won’t take his clothes off and the audience still loves it,” said Jack Shafer, press critic for Slate, which is now owned by the Washington Post Company. (Column by David Carr in The New York Times about Donald E. Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Co., who is no fan dancer for Wall Street analysts.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Prize Collection From a Nobel Winner

To me, globalization is like a hundred-lane highway criss-crossing the world. If it is a free-for-all highway, its lanes will be taken over by the giant trucks from powerful economies. Bangladeshi rickshaw will be thrown off the highway. In order to have a win-win globalization we must have traffic rules, traffic police, and traffic authority for this global highway. (Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech).

And …

To me poor people are like bonsai trees. When you plant the best seed of the tallest tree in a flower-pot, you get a replica of the tallest tree, only inches tall. There is nothing wrong with the seed you planted, only the soil-base that is too inadequate. Poor people are bonsai people. There is nothing wrong in their seeds. Simply, society never gave them the base to grow on.

Friday, December 08, 2006

An Iraq Study Group Smorgasbord: From Big Macs to Fruit Salad (And a Lap Dance to Boot)

Terrorism could grow. As one Iraqi official told us, “Al Qaeda is now a franchise in Iraq, like McDonald’s.” (Excerpt from Iraq study group report).

One day after the study group rattled Washington with its bleak assessment of conditions in Iraq, its Republican co-chairman, James A. Baker III, said the White House must not treat the report “like a fruit salad” …. (Page One, New York Times).

And talking to the fanatical true believers in Iran (Ahmadinejad purged the foreign service last year, replacing experienced hands with ideological purists) about helping with security in Iraq is like inviting the wolf in for a drink and having Little Red Riding Hood give him a lap dance…. (Rick Moran on blog).

As Senator Joseph Lieberman noted, “Asking Iran and Syria to help us succeed in Iraq is like your local fire department asking a couple of arsonists to help put out the fire. These people are flaming the fire.” (Heritage Foundation article).

Turning over security operations to Iraqi security forces that are dominated by the Shiite is like turning over the henhouse to the fox. Actually it would be more accurate to say it's like turning it over to your lazy dog who happens to be friends with the fox. (Three Wise Men blog).

Dealing with Syria is like dealing with a Mafia. (Post of

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 4: OK . . . Cue 'The Ride of the Valkyries'

From "Apocalypse Now" …

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. (Kilgore).

We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. (Kurtz).

I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable - plugged straight into Kurtz. (Willard).

Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. (Willard).

… charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. (Willard).

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Worry, Just Leave It to Jethro

Watching our political leaders try to design a plan that will ensure victory in Iraq is like watching Jethro Bodine trying to become a double naught spy. But at least Jethro was funny. (Gunz Up blog).

Iraq is like Pickett's charge in slow motion. (Perspective piece in The Rutland Herald).

Saturday, December 02, 2006

From Rising Souffle to a Rented Mule

"... Never have I seen so much swoon for so little biography. If he can make something out of this [Ed Rogers, the speaker, revealing Obama's middle name, Hussein, on "Hardball"], it proves he's very thin-skinned and he ain't ready. Hillary will beat him like a rented mule." (Maureen Dowd quoting Rogers, a Bush 41 official, in her New York Times column today).

[See "The Obama Souffle," Nov. 20th post below]

Friday, December 01, 2006

Iraq, Broken Glass & the Voice

Republicans are fighting among themselves -- or, rather, grumbling. They haven't, amazingly, broken out in war, and if they did, no one would be debating if it were a civil war. It would be like Iraq, like a dropped pane of glass that is jagged, shattered, dangerous. (Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal).

[On Henry Kissinger] And then you hear it: The Voice, a low rumble from around the corner, like heavy construction on the street outside. (New York magazine).

And …

Okay, I say, moving on to an event that seems relatively undeniable: the famous memo from 1969 he gave last year to former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson suggesting that withdrawing troops from Vietnam would be like giving “salted peanuts” to the public, who would demand more and more, leading to a premature defeat. (New York magazine).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

May I Have This Dance?

Cocktail parties are more about chatting and laughter than settling in for dense conversation. The best music will be like a favorite guest: lively, witty, upbeat and, as the evening goes on, ready to dance. (Article, Washington Post).

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quotable Similes, Part 2

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.
(Albert Einstein).

Politics are very much like war. We may even have to use poison gas at times. (Winston Churchill).

My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water. (Mark Twain).

As crazy as hauling timber into the woods. (Horace).

Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. (Truman Capote).

Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily. (George Santayana).

For Saddam, Bring on the Holy Water

[On a Saddam Hussein execution]. But this still seems to me to be more like an exorcism than an execution — a concession to superstition and primitive emotion. (Christopher Hitchens on Slate).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mob Scene at the Republican Caucus

“When Lyndon Johnson became Vice-President, he wasn’t welcome at Senate Democratic caucus meetings anymore, because it was for senators only,” Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told me. “But every Tuesday since Bush has been President it’s been like a Mafia funeral around here. There are, like, fifteen cars with lights and sirens, and Cheney and Karl Rove come to the Republican caucus meetings and tell those guys what to do. It’s all ‘Yes, sir, yes, sir.’ (Jeffrey Toobin in the New Yorker).

While no doubt convinced that Iraq had at least some chemical and biological weapons, Bush administration officials, like the cop framing a guilty man, vastly exaggerated the evidence. (Mark Danner in book review, New York Review of Books).

“The Echo Maker” is probably the best Powers novel so far. I say "probably," because it's not possible for Powers to write an uninteresting book, and after that it's a matter of taste. Trying to describe it is a bit like four blind men trying to describe an elephant—which end do you start at, with something so large and multi-limbed? (Margaret Atwood, in New York Review of Books on new Richard Powers book).

You stagger out of Powers's novel happy to find yourself, like Scrooge the morning after, grasping your own bedpost, saying "There's no place like home," and hoping you still have a chance to set things right. (Margaret Atwood).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Gandhi, the Lone Ranger & the Mob in Iraq

Time's cover headline referring to President George W. Bush as "The Lone Ranger" [Nov. 6] was like calling Donald Rumsfeld Mahatma Gandhi. Don't you know your pop-culture history? The Lone Ranger was a gallant man who helped people in distress. He then rode away, not waiting for accolades. The only thing Bush has in common with the Lone Ranger is that he is from Texas. (Letter to Time magazine).

Large numbers of impoverished Shiites view Sadr as their guardian — the one leader who is willing not just to stand up for them but to strike back on their behalf. "People count on the militias," says Lieutenant Hartley, who deals with Sadr's thugs on a regular basis. "It's like the mob — they keep people safe." (The Most Dangerous Man in Iraq, Newsweek).

Contagious Shooting and the Sizzle of Bacon

It is known in police parlance as "contagious shooting" -- gunfire that spreads among officers who believe that they, or their colleagues, are facing a threat. It spreads like germs, like laughter, or fear. (50 Shots Fired, And the Experts Offer a Theory, today's New York Times).

Off a bleak and empty interchange midway through the Dallas sprawl stands a Burger King. It's past midnight, the rain sizzles on the parking lot blacktop like frying bacon. (American Album, today's New York Times).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The White House Chief of Denial

[Tony] Snow has said this is not a civil war because the fighting is not taking place in every province and because Iraqis voted in free elections. But that's like saying that the Battle of Gettysburg only took place in one small corner of the country, so there was no real American Civil War. And there were elections during our civil war too. (Maureen Dowd, The New York Times).

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Smell of Gold, the Fear of Sleep

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 3:

Believe it or not, I knew a fellow once who could smell gold like a jackass can smell water. (Howard, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” 1948)

I can't sleep any more. It's too much like death. (Cosmo, “Moonstruck,” 1987)

An artist without freedom is like a bird without wings.(Anatoly, “Moscow on the Hudson,” 1984)

He spurned me like a strumpet in the street. (Nefretiri, “The Ten Commandments,” 1956)

You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof. (Margaret, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” 1958)

From “The Cat in the Hat,” (2003):

Conrad: I'm not going to military school.
Lawrence Quinn: Oh, I think you're gonna love it! It's just like summer camp, except with brutal forced marches and soul-crushing discipline.

The Cat: Wow! This is just like the carnival, just without the abused animals and the drunken clowns with hepatitis.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Evokes the Pistons, the Oscars, Theater, the Godfather -- and Auschwitz

My house on Thanksgiving is like a Pistons game with pie. (David Letterman quoted on

Thanksgiving is like Oscar night. [Time to thank all the little people.] (Posting on Davenet).

"Thanksgiving is like theater,'' says Jerry Gulley, editor-in-chief of the Web site. (Article in Houston Chronicle).

Thanksgiving is like watching an episode of the Godfather. I’m afraid to take the last piece of turkey because I might wake up with a horse's head in bed with me. (Article in Texas newspaper).

My husband believed that "Native Americans celebrating Thanksgiving is like Jews celebrating Auschwitz." (Post on Chicago Bears site), presumably by a Native American.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

America's Watery Pompeii

John Updike, The New York Review of Books, on “New Orleans After the Flood,” a collection of remarkable photographs by Robert Polidori, and the related exhibition at the Metropolitan, through Dec. 10:

Toppled live oaks lay like fallen colossi, except there was no grandeur to the scene, just despair. (Quoting from Jeff L. Rosenheim's introduction to the book).

In New Orleans, he dealt not with invisible radioactivity but with a city like, he has said in an interview, "a decomposing body"; photographs taken six months after the hurricane still show scant signs of cleanup, reclamation, and recovery. (Updike)

Automobiles, those stolid American necessities, turn out to be susceptible and rather comically buoyant in a flood; the second photo, 2600 Block of Munster Boulevard, captures two of them with their rear ends elevated, like a pair of saucy chorus girls, in a row of brick bungalows. (Updike)

Even the bleakest of the shelters that caught the photographer's attention — the single-story shack on Tupelo Street, for instance, a missing wall baring a bright closetful of abandoned clothes; or the wrecked salmon-colored cabin at Law and Tupelo Streets; or the grimly simple bedroom on presciently named Flood Street, with its careening mattress and ceiling fan wilted like a Dalì timepiece — hold bits of decorative art and vibrations of life, cut off as suddenly as occupancies at Pompeii. (Updike)

Heaped onto the street and sidewalk are tons of the flimsy stuff of American housing—fiberglass insulation like poisonous cotton candy; sheets of warped plywood; mock-pine pressed sheathing; pulverized plasterboard; aluminum siding splayed like palm fronds as houses floated and twisted; strips of metal and molding; plastic-covered shelves and countertops; shower curtains and mattresses, downspouts and lawnmowers, air conditioners and refrigerators mired in a state of eternal paralysis. (Updike)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Prophecy & Reality

2003: O.J. Simpson is like one of those trick birthday candles – every time you think he’s gone out, he flames up again. (From from 2003).

2006: O.J. Simpson is like a pesky bug — he just doesn’t go away and doesn’t know when to stop too. (Nov.16th post on The Foo Logs blog).

The Obama Souffle

Obama is like a Grand Marnier soufflé still rising in the oven. It will taste delicious when it's finished, but it's not there yet. (An anonymous supporter of Hillary Clinton quoted in Newsweek).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

For the New Bond, Full-Action Similes

A simile-studded New Yorker review
of “Casino Royale” by Anthony Lane:

Who said this: “It is interesting for me to see this new Bond. Englishmen are so odd. They are like a nest of Chinese boxes. It takes a very long time to get to the center of them. When one gets there the result is unrewarding, but the process is instructive and entertaining.” The speaker is Mathis, a kindly French liaison officer in “Casino Royale,” Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, published in 1953.

And …

It is true that Bond keeps a defibrillator in the glove compartment of his Aston Martin, but, given the cholesterol levels of the kind of people who drive Aston Martins, a heart-starter presumably comes standard, like a wheel jack.

And …

His head is a rough cube, sawed and sanded, with the blue eyes hammered in like nail heads. [About Daniel Craig, the new Bond].

And ...

He could beat a man’s brains out with his brow. That suits the Bond of “Casino Royale,” who has only lately acquired his license to kill, and, like a kid who’s just passed his driving test, is eager to step on the gas.

And …

This chase goes on far longer than expected, like a theological discussion in a Bergman film, with both the fleeing baddie and the pursuant Bond careening off walls and cranes and anything else that juts into their path.

One City Forgets, Another Tries to Remember

“Los Angeles is such a rapidly evolving city,” said Joel Kotkin, an urban historian who has lived [there] for 30 years. “There is an enormous turnover of people here,” Mr. Klotkin said. “You talk to people here about the ‘80s here, and it’s like you are talking about the Conquistadors. It is a place where people go on with their lives. O.J. was part of the L.A. shtick, and now it is gone.” (About the fading imprint of O.J. Simpson on the city, New York Times).

“A city is like a human being,” said [Vietnamese architect Nguyen Van] Tat. “It needs to have a past. There is a saying in Vietnam that even if the pages are frayed, a book must still have its spine.” (Article on booming development in Ho Chi Minh City, New York Times).

Friday, November 17, 2006

An Anthill, 2 Taxis & a Simile-Conscious Psycho

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 2
From Hitchcock:

He says that San Francisco's like an anthill up the foot of a bridge. (Cathy Brenner, “The Birds,” 1963)

When two people love each other, they come together – wham – like two taxis on Broadway. (Stella, “Rear Window,” 1954)

She's like a queen bee with her pick of the drones. (Jeff, “Rear Window”)

Sometimes the truth does taste like a mouthful of worms. (Leonard, “North by Northwest,” 1959

Dialog from “Psycho,” 1960:

Norman Bates: You - you eat like a bird.
Marion Crane: [Looking around at the stuffed birds while eating] And you'd know, of course.
Norman Bates: No, not really. Anyway, I hear the expression 'eats like a bird' - it-it's really a false-false-false-falsity. Because birds really eat a tremendous lot. But I - I don't really know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things. You know, taxidermy.


Norman [thinking as his mother]: He was always bad and in the end he intended to tell them I killed those girls and that man, as if I could do anything but just sit and stare like one of his stuffed birds.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quotable Similes, Part 1

Some bon mots from

Well, I'm about as tall as a shotgun, and just as noisy. (Truman Capote)

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. (Benjamin Franklin)

Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man. (Ronald Reagan)

Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop. (H.L. Mencken)

The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history. (George Eliot)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thinking About Outsourcing? Get a Pre-Nup

Outsourcing is like marriage: You're in it for life -- at least you should be. Getting out is costly and wrought with devastating disappointment and contractual chaos. (Article on SearchCio web site).

Flight Risk

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman strode into a Democratic caucus gathering like he owned the place or, at the very least, like someone who is a flight risk and could leave at any minute, taking the Democrats’ new majority with him. (New York Times, page one).

And, for Your Entree?

That's like Jeffrey Dahmer eating your kid. [A rather eccentric pigeon lover about dining on squab.] (New York Times book review of "Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird" -- complete with a recipe for pigeon pot pie).

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Similes on the Big Screen, Take 1

From Woody Allen:

A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark. (Alvy Singer in “Annie Hall,” 1977).

Alvy, you're incapable of enjoying life, you know that? I mean you're like New York City. You're just this person. You're like this island unto yourself. (Annie Hall in “Annie Hall”).

You, you, you're like New York: Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual, Central Park West, Brandeis University, the socialist summer camps and the, the father with the Ben Shahn drawings, right, and the really, y'know, strike-oriented kind of, red diaper, stop me before I make a complete imbecile of myself. (Alvy Singer in “Annie Hall”).

You stand on the brink of greatness. The world will open to you like an oyster. No... not like an oyster. The world will open to you like a magnificent vagina. (Helen Sinclair in “Bullets Over Broadway,” 1994)

He’s an American phenomenon (Halley Reed). Yeah, like acid rain (Clifford Stern). (“Crimes and Misdemeanors,” 1989)

[About life] It's like Vegas. You're up, you're down, but in the end the house always wins. Doesn't mean you didn't have fun. (The Devil in “Deconstructing Harry,” 1997)

It's an interesting group of people, your friends are … Like the cast of a Fellini movie. (Isaac Davis in “Manhattan,” 1979).

[About a Jackson Pollack painting] It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos. (Museum Girl in “Play It Again, Sam,” 1972)

You can't learn to be real. It's like learning to be a midget. (Tom Baxter in “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” 1985).

The Health Care Cadillac

The health care system is like a 1970s-era Cadillac - overpriced, inefficient and filled with unnecessary features. (Merrill Goozner blog on Huffington Post).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lemonade, a Baby Gorilla & a D.C. Tornado

Sitting in a little pink lawn chair, Poobah [a fire-eating dwarf] looks run-down. It is nearly 100 degrees, the air as sticky as lemonade. (Charlie LeDuff in today’s New York Times).

He's like a little heating blanket. (Quote on by “surrogate mom” about baby gorilla).

The spirited exchanges on the Sunday morning talk shows – a staple of weekend life for the political elite here, especially on the Sunday after an election that blew through Washington like a tornado – came at a delicate moment for the White House on Iraq. (New York Times, page one).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Yam Lips, Lost Continents & Windmill Dunks

The doctor – possibly the same one who later gave Kuczynski the yam lip – was ten years my senior, and had clear, translucent skin that glistened pinkly, like prosciutto that had been sliced to an inviting, tissue-paper thinness, and she said that if I, too, started undergoing facial peels I could have the complexion of a woman half my age by the time I hit forty. (New Yorker review of Alex Kuczynski’s cosmetic surgery book).

Maybe people believe swapping personal data for national security is a fair trade. But maybe no one is agitated because the notion of privacy has become, like Atlantis, a persistent and attractive myth. (Anna Quindlen in Newsweek).

I'm out of practice dealing with good political news. It's been a bit of an overload these past two days. It's kind of like getting a letter from my doctor informing me that I can now suddenly windmill dunk a basketball. (Adam McKay in Huffington Post).

Friday, November 10, 2006

Liberals, Matrons & a Pie in the Face

As a companion to Ode to the Neocons (see skewering 11-07-06), fair play demands the following:

Liberals are like the plump matron who is always outraged and eventually gets a pie in the face from Groucho Marx. (Enter Stage Right).

Liberals are like geldings. (T-shirts and mugs - ConservaGear)

Liberals are like children in a toy store. (Liberal Quicksand blog).

Liberals are like a Pretzel. (Conservative Majority blog).

Liberals are like tomatoes. (Imao).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Keeping Women on the TV Sidelines

It could be that men still dominate because election night is like the N.F.L.: it's always two guys in the booth doing the play-by-play, while women cover the sidelines.

And ...

The commentators that Fox News assembled to back up Brit Hume looked like a funereal barbershop quartet: William Kristol, Juan Williams, Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke.

And ...

CNN's Anderson Cooper did turn for help to Candy Crowley, who was sandwiched between John King and Marcus Mabry of Newsweek, but the panel behind them, CNN's "brain trust" (William J. Bennett, J.C. Watts, James Carville and Paul Begala) looked like a police lineup on Mount Athos. (Alessandra Stanley, today's New York Times).

Any thoughts on the Mount Athos / police lineup item?

After the Thumpin': The NYT Turns Psychologist

Yet for someone whose presidency had just been repudiated, whose party had been sent reeling and whose defense secretary had just been sent packing, Mr. Bush also appeared strangely giddy, like someone who is acting a little odd after suffering a blow to the head, or a "thumpin'," to use the official presidential description. (Mark Leibovich in today's New York Times).

Rummy, With Hindsight

Bush’s endorsement of Rumsfeld is like the fox endorsing the wolf’s management of the hen house. (Letter to The Chicago Tribune).

Donald Rumsfeld famously said "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion" about France's unwillingness to go to war in Iraq. It turns out that going to war with Rumsfeld is like going duck hunting with Dick Cheney. (Post on USA Today site).

"Rumsfeld is like the football coach who is so confident of victory that he puts only 10 players on the field to prove a point," says one Army official. "Our fear is that he's going to play the whole season like this." (U.S. News and World Report).

Rumsfeld is like the last guest at the party who shows no signs of leaving, no matter how unsubtle the clues are getting.... ( Take It Personally blog).

Rumsfeld was like a little kid covering his ears so he can't hear something that might upset him. (Post on

Rumsfeld is like a charging bull, and his anger knows no bounds. (Post on Last Chance Democracy Café).

“Don Rumsfeld is a patriot like few others whose tireless work on behalf of all of us is so truly remarkable. Don Rumsfeld is like that Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going and going. (Speech by Senator Jesse Helms)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Christmas Morning & the Manbot

I woke up this morning feeling somewhat like I used to as a child on a Christmas morning, eager to see what not Santa, but the election, had brought. I was not unhappy with the results. (A Heathen’s Day blog).

Like some out-of-control manbot, Vice says they will continue “full speed ahead” in Iraq, no matter what voters say. (Maureen Dowd, New York Times)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ode to the Neocons: Bats, Bubbles & Slinkies

Neocons are like a pack of rabid bats. (Stop the Neocons blog).

The Neocons are like a Lenin-esque cult. Their philosophy is understood rather than written. (Yeast Radio)

These neocons are like a whole gaggle of boys in plastic bubbles. It must be nice to live so detached from reality. (Post on Whiskey Bar blog).

Those neocons are like herpes. You can never really get rid of them, and they keep cropping up in unsightly places at inconvenient times. (Post on Something's Got to Break blog).

When you stop and think about it, the NeoCons are like killer sharks, when they smell blood they become roused and energized. (Ramparts blog).

Neocons are like bugs: They scatter when lights come on (30%) Will survive the nuclear war they start (15%) They’ll be back (5%) Should be kept out of political office (46%) (Poll on Political Cortex).

Neocons are like government by Wal-Mart. (Post on

Some neocons are like slinkies ... Not really good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs." (Post on White Noise Insanity).

Monday, November 06, 2006

On Election's Eve, Iraq Looms

The Iraq war is like modern art; you’re not supposed to get it. (Comedian John Mulaney on Comedy Central site).

Expecting the Democrats to end the Iraq war is like expecting the crack addicts to turn in their dealers. (Green Party statement).

The Iraq war is like the sun: No one wants to stare at it too long. (Mike Taibbi in RollingStone).

The Iraq War is like a specialty channel on TV. One of the 200, somewhere between the Comedy Channel and Home Shopping Network. People who care about it care about it, but they're a pretty small group. (Mudville Gazette blog).

… giving up on the Iraq War is like giving up smoking; you'll always have these relapses if you try to do it a bit at a time. You've got to go cold turkey. (Post on Times of London online site).

Iraq War is like FDR declaring war on Israel because he thought the pilots were yelling “Torah, Torah, Torah” as they bombed Pearl Harbor. (Post on ThinkRight blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution site).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Something With a Little Southern Bite

Our southern correspondent writes with two favorites:

As busy as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking

As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs

Saturday, November 04, 2006

What Bush Is Like

Your starter kit:

This sounds like a copout, I know, but describing George W. Bush is like doing origami with mittens on. (National Review Online, from 1999).

"George W. Bush is like a bad comic working the crowd, a moron, if you'll pardon the expression." (Martin Sheen in a BBC interview).

Bush is like that playground bully who attacks and attacks and attacks to hide his own inadequacy, but the minute someone bigger and tougher comes along he melts into a puddle of petulant goo. (Washington Monthly)

Bush is like the oft-remarked Oakland CA. There is no there, there. (Post on Ezra Klein's blog)

Bush is like a PAC-10 football team: He just doesn't play defense well. (Paul Begala's blog on

No, Bush is like Dennis Kozlowski, denying his obviously crooked acts with a series of lame justifications.... (Post on

Bush is like a pyromaniac who returns to the scene of the crime. (Eleanor Clift) in Newsweek.

North Korea has described US President George W Bush as an "imbecile" and a "tyrant that puts Hitler in the shade". (BBC).

Bush is like every rich frat-boy-redneck-wannabe-cowboy-wannabe-soldier who wouldn't know real ideas or real work or real suffering if he hitched it to his ornamental pick up truck. (The Rude Pundit).

"George Bush is like a tortoise on a fence post," Finch said. "He has no idea how he got there. He has no idea how to get down. And he has no business being where he is. (Senator Bill Finch on political site).

"President Bush is like all of the characters Dorothy encounters in the Wizard of Oz, all rolled into one - he has no brain, no heart, no courage." (Post on The Daily Kos).

Bush is like someone's old dad who just doesn't get it, a person who's not able to grow or change. (Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 in RollingStone Magazine).

He is like the distant friend who somehow ends up going to the party with you, and you worry he's going to get drunk and say the wrong thing and just start talking craziness. (Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie in RollingStone Magazine).

Friday, November 03, 2006

The (Sorry) State of the Body Politic

And then there are the flip-flop ads, which show the candidate saying one thing, doing another. Every election, those damned flip-flops, with the opponent often photographed in grainy slow motion like a suspect on America's Most Wanted, or Bigfoot emerging from the forest. (Vanity Fair / James Wolcott)

Richard Clarke, the terrorism expert of both the Clinton and first Bush administrations, went public more than two years ago with his harsh critique of the Bush terror war, and, to many, seemed like a bitchy Cassandra, which is not necessarily the perfect career face. (Vanity Fair)

Instead of tapping and emulating his political artistry, Democrats treat Clinton as if he were some unduplicatable natural phenomenon, like the pre-army-induction Elvis. (Vanity Fair / James Wolcott)

Fumes, Magic Dust and Found Art

During the last two elections, the fumes of Air Force One worked like political magic dust for the candidates lucky enough to score visits from Mr. Bush. (New York Times, page one)

And ... about the Kerry dust-up: "You should all be ashamed of yourselves for acting like children rather than rational grownups. What is happening to America??"

Richard Buckner's lyrics are like found art -- a postcard from someone's grandmother blown into your backyard, or a breakup letter wedged against a curb at the record store. They also work like memory works: A flash of color married to a couple of sentences, images and words that imply more than explain but still manage to resonate and stir emotions. (Louisville Courier-Journal)

Borat (No Angel) Lands; Lock Up the Childrens

In Kazakhstan, a little backtracking. Yerlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan ambassador to Great Britain, told Kazakhtan Today: "If you read attentively my recent article in the "Guardian" you will find out that highly appreciating the comic gifts of S.B. Cohen I gave the "pig of a man" not to himself, but to Borat - a wild scenic character invented by Cohen. I believe that the creator of the character himself does not consider Borat as an angel," the diplomat wrote in his letter to Kazakhstan Today.

Borat conjures history for The New York Times: Like General Sherman, he also lays waste to a sizable swath of the South, a line of attack that begins in New York and ends somewhere between the Hollywood Hills and Pamela Anderson's bosom.

The New Yorker, no enemy to a good simile weighed in this way:

This defense of Borat as an unwitting scourge of the reactionary — unearthing Midwestern beliefs no less parochial than those he left behind in Kazakhstan — is sound as far as it goes. But the movie goes further. It is equipped, like an F-15 Eagle, to engage multiple targets at once.

Continuing ...

More recently, the case for disturbance has been made by the novelist Howard Jacobson, who has insisted, both within and beyond his books, that comedy is not just enfeebled but put to sleep, like an unwanted animal, once it discards its right and duty to offend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bush Meets (or Collides With) the Simile

"I have said that the sanction regime is like Swiss cheese — that meant that they weren't very effective." — White House press conference, Washington, D.C., Feb. 22, 2001 (Slate)

Oy! That's as Bad as...

From the Onion, the motherlode of dreadful similes. It's a joke, albeit rather thin.

Nonetheless, a sampling:

I've been told my diction's clear as strychnine.

I'm as hopeless as a springtime frog-fryer.

To tell it plain, my similes are confusing as the day is wrong, as disappointing as two peas in a pigsty, and more obscure than Kenneth from marketing (the guy who's as big as a thing that's six-feet-tall and 200 pounds).

Onion Domes, Urinals and Nuclear War

(Casinos in Moscow) There are more than 60 of them in the city now, neon palaces of capitalist glitter and risk that have become as ubiquitous as the onion domes of Russian Orthodoxy. (New York Times)

Four urinals shaped liked a woman's lips went on sale on Thursday .... (Reuters)

'Debt Is Like Nuclear War' (Headline: Business Report, South Africa)

It's beginning to look like Christmas for China's central bank, but officials there cannot be overjoyed. (International Herald Tribune)

... Like the kid at the prom stuck dancing with the ugly girl, while the cheerleader they were too scared to ask out stands available nearby. (The Daily Texan)